Wednesday, 29 July 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

California is in the middle of a severe drought. How severe? State officials expect the 2015 statewide snowpack to be about 6% of normal.

Can you imagine having only 6% of thewater you normally have to last the whole year? Well, if you're in California you don't have to imagine.

With Americans marking the 47th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just days earlier, abroad coalition of registered nurses, organized labor, anti-AIDS advocates, college students, clergy and other community activists will converge on 25 US cities Wednesday, April 8, to amplify the call for a Wall Street financial transactions tax to reverse the country's crippling inequality.

Economists estimate that a tiny surcharge of no more than a nickel on every $10 in trades of stocks, bond and derivatives - tax that is proportionally smaller than what most Americans pay fora pair of shoes - could increase revenues collected by the Treasury Department by as much as $350 billion annually.

It's election day in Chicago, and until it's over political types here are unlikely to write about much of anything else. Since I've always tended to work against the grain, I'm going to go ahead and pen an exception to that trend, because tomorrow's going to come, and regardless of who takes (or keeps) the reins here in our city, there's a whole lot that's not going to change.

Whether Wednesday's headlines declare that there's a new mayor in town, or that we'll be bunking with the King of Neoliberalism for another four years, the sun will rise over Chicago tomorrow, and determined young people will still be organizing for their lives. Racism and ableism will continue to manifest themselves in the form of police violence, and the school to prison pipeline will continue to consume our children. Those of us organizing against state violence will continue to stand up, build alternatives, and reduce harm where we can.

 

Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.

Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Block, pictured at right, was compelled to either pay $232 or spend 5 days in the Juneau County Jail.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Los Angeles Times that a bipartisan amendment passed by Congress last year prohibiting DOJ from spending any money to undermine state medicalmarijuana laws doesn't prevent it from prosecuting people for medical marijuana or seizing their property. The statement comes as the agency continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law. This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.

"The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency."

The US government should not be permitted to classify information simply because it could be used to stir anti-American sentiment abroad, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued in an amicus brief filed last week.

Allowing the US to classify information based on the argument that our enemies could use it as"anti-American propaganda" contradicts Executive Order 13526, which prohibits the classification of information to conceal misconduct or prevent embarrassment, and would create a limitless basis for future classification, the brief argues.

Washington DC - The religious anti-poverty organization JubileeUSANetwork is calling on international lenders to grant debt relief toVanuatuIn mid-March, Cyclone Pam struck the string of small Pacific islands with winds up to 165 miles per hour. The category 5 storm destroyed or damaged nearly every building inthe capital city and wiped out crops across the country. The United Nations warns that entire islands are facing imminent starvation and its President says the "monster" storm undid the nation's recent economic development. Vanuatuowes approximately $84 million to international lenders, including nearly $10 millionto the World Bank.

"The World Bank and other international lenders can reduce Vanuatu'debt," said Eric LeCompte, JubileeUSANetwork's Executive Director. "Vanuatu's people will need every single dollar they can get to rebuild."

When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.

That contaminant of racism in our national atmosphere has become more sharply noticeable, however, since the generalized uprising of hurt protest following the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown in August last year. We are beginning to see that it all connects, that each incident relates to the others.

An American citizen who was disappeared in Yemen has told his lawyers 'I'm afraid for my life' on a phone call from his prison cell in the basement of a Sana'a military base. The call is the first time Sharif Mobley has spoken to anyone from his legal team in over a year.

On the phone call, broadcast today on MSNBC, Sharif can be heard telling his lawyers "there's fighting at this military base and… Saudi Arabian bombing, it's been bombed every night, and it's very frightening." He goes on to say "I'm afraid for my life."

Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms - worship, speech, press, assembly and petition - suffer when we're at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago...

I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing.

GET DAILY TRUTHOUT UPDATES
Optional Member Code

FOLLOW togtorsstottofb


Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

California is in the middle of a severe drought. How severe? State officials expect the 2015 statewide snowpack to be about 6% of normal.

Can you imagine having only 6% of thewater you normally have to last the whole year? Well, if you're in California you don't have to imagine.

With Americans marking the 47th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just days earlier, abroad coalition of registered nurses, organized labor, anti-AIDS advocates, college students, clergy and other community activists will converge on 25 US cities Wednesday, April 8, to amplify the call for a Wall Street financial transactions tax to reverse the country's crippling inequality.

Economists estimate that a tiny surcharge of no more than a nickel on every $10 in trades of stocks, bond and derivatives - tax that is proportionally smaller than what most Americans pay fora pair of shoes - could increase revenues collected by the Treasury Department by as much as $350 billion annually.

It's election day in Chicago, and until it's over political types here are unlikely to write about much of anything else. Since I've always tended to work against the grain, I'm going to go ahead and pen an exception to that trend, because tomorrow's going to come, and regardless of who takes (or keeps) the reins here in our city, there's a whole lot that's not going to change.

Whether Wednesday's headlines declare that there's a new mayor in town, or that we'll be bunking with the King of Neoliberalism for another four years, the sun will rise over Chicago tomorrow, and determined young people will still be organizing for their lives. Racism and ableism will continue to manifest themselves in the form of police violence, and the school to prison pipeline will continue to consume our children. Those of us organizing against state violence will continue to stand up, build alternatives, and reduce harm where we can.

 

Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.

Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Block, pictured at right, was compelled to either pay $232 or spend 5 days in the Juneau County Jail.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Los Angeles Times that a bipartisan amendment passed by Congress last year prohibiting DOJ from spending any money to undermine state medicalmarijuana laws doesn't prevent it from prosecuting people for medical marijuana or seizing their property. The statement comes as the agency continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law. This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.

"The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency."

The US government should not be permitted to classify information simply because it could be used to stir anti-American sentiment abroad, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued in an amicus brief filed last week.

Allowing the US to classify information based on the argument that our enemies could use it as"anti-American propaganda" contradicts Executive Order 13526, which prohibits the classification of information to conceal misconduct or prevent embarrassment, and would create a limitless basis for future classification, the brief argues.

Washington DC - The religious anti-poverty organization JubileeUSANetwork is calling on international lenders to grant debt relief toVanuatuIn mid-March, Cyclone Pam struck the string of small Pacific islands with winds up to 165 miles per hour. The category 5 storm destroyed or damaged nearly every building inthe capital city and wiped out crops across the country. The United Nations warns that entire islands are facing imminent starvation and its President says the "monster" storm undid the nation's recent economic development. Vanuatuowes approximately $84 million to international lenders, including nearly $10 millionto the World Bank.

"The World Bank and other international lenders can reduce Vanuatu'debt," said Eric LeCompte, JubileeUSANetwork's Executive Director. "Vanuatu's people will need every single dollar they can get to rebuild."

When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.

That contaminant of racism in our national atmosphere has become more sharply noticeable, however, since the generalized uprising of hurt protest following the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown in August last year. We are beginning to see that it all connects, that each incident relates to the others.

An American citizen who was disappeared in Yemen has told his lawyers 'I'm afraid for my life' on a phone call from his prison cell in the basement of a Sana'a military base. The call is the first time Sharif Mobley has spoken to anyone from his legal team in over a year.

On the phone call, broadcast today on MSNBC, Sharif can be heard telling his lawyers "there's fighting at this military base and… Saudi Arabian bombing, it's been bombed every night, and it's very frightening." He goes on to say "I'm afraid for my life."

Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms - worship, speech, press, assembly and petition - suffer when we're at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago...

I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing.